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The C Word

by Ann-Marie Clark


Inspiration image

It lay in my palm
Like a piece of barbed wire
While I watched myself

Friends began handing it to me
A cold wet fish
That I dropped

Sometimes I find it
Pinned on my shirt
A Star of David
Unclean, piteous, apart, defined.
I am one of them

At night
It sleeps with me
A lump in the bed
Keeping me wide eyed and weeping
Away from the warm arms of sleep
A nightmare
From which there is no waking

In daylight
I stuff it in my pocket
To keep my hands free
From sharp edges
A bump
That won’t go away

What does it want?
The answer sleeps in the question
Rousing at the sound
Of asking

And it becomes
An arc,
A rainbow
A doorway
Beckoning me to walk
Through the smoke screen
To the other side of suffering

Where it becomes
A signpost
A mirror
A teacher
So I can put the weapons down
Come out of hiding
And meet myself
In an open field
As the Shaman
The Magician
The Healer
That never left me all along.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Ann-Marie Clark is a melanoma survivor living in Thiensville, WI.

This article was published in Coping® with Cancer magazine, November/December 2008.